Smart debuting tiny pickup truck at Detroit Auto Show

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SmartForTwo microcar

A new truck-like model of the Smart car will be debuting at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Among other car makers, Smart is taking a new model to the Detroit Auto Show in January 2012. The microcar maker is unveiling a truck model.

Useful when hauling small stuff

Daimler’s microcar division, Smart, is unveiling a new model in January at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, according to CNN. The new Smart is going to be a truck, or rather a truck-like version of the Smart car. The Smart For-Us, as it is called, is based on the Smart ForTwo ElectricDrive; it will be powered by a 73-horsepower electric motor.

According to AutoWeek, it’s slightly longer and wider than the Smart ForTwo, and the cargo bed will be 35.4 inches long. The cargo bed door will extend 11 inches outward, to assist loading. It is designed to accommodate two Smart electric bicycles, with a charging station for them built into the bed. According to AutoBlog, it can reach speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour (about 75 miles per hour), but the range of the car once charged and the price haven’t been announced yet.

Brand needs a boost

Smart had some initial success upon its launch in 2008, selling 25,000 of the tiny two-seaters in the United States, according to AutoGuide. However, sales were down by two-thirds by the time Daimler purchased the company in 2010 and began selling them at Mercedes Benz dealerships by fall of that year.

Smart ForTwo sales are still sluggish compared with many cars, though they have rebounded somewhat from last year. In October, according to MSNBC, there were 327 Smart cars sold and in November of this year, according to CNN, there were 414. In November of 2010, there were only 211 Smart ForTwos sold.

A criticism of the brand has always been the lack of seating for more than two. A Smart ForFour model was available in Europe, according to MotorAuthority, from 2004 to 2006. However, a new Smart ForFour is being developed in conjunction with Renault, according to AutoWeek. The new ForFour, though it may be called something else, is said to be based on the Renault TwinGo minicar.

Small value

A microcar is great in a cramped urban setting. However, given the price, it would make more sense to go with a gas-driven compact that offers more interior space, seating and good mileage than a Smart. The basic Smart ForTwo, the Pure, costs $12,490. It gets 33 miles per gallon city and 40 highway, but the Kia Rio five-door hatch costs $13,600, offers seating for five, more cargo room and gets 30 mpg city/40 highway.

The $13,200 Ford Fiesta sedan gets 29 mpg city/38 highway. The base Nissan Versa sedan can get 30 mpg city/38 highway if equipped with Nissan’s Continuously Variable Transmission, which brings the price up to $13,520 with a $750 destination charge.












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